Earth stewardship is an ecological ethic that believes humans have the role to take care of the earth. This ethic acknowledges the influence humans have over natural systems and encourages them to act responsibly. Earth stewardship entails directing social-ecological change pathways at global and regional scales in order to improve ecosystem resilience as well as human well-being.
Society has a moment of opportunity to dramatically rethink our connection to the planet, reducing the risk of severe global changes which would otherwise gravely impair Earth’s life-support systems. Climate change is a unique problem in need of multidisciplinary collaboration. To understand causal connections between human behaviour, institutional dynamics, and environmental systems, we must collaborate.
Those who follow the earth stewardship ideal believe we must redefine our relationship with nature to save our planet from ecological destruction. Individuals, corporations, and governments must adopt a new environmental citizenship ethic if they are to be good stewards of the planet. This must be founded on a thorough knowledge of the implications of their actions that affect our planet’s trajectory. By using our scientific knowledge and historical patterns, we can create more sustainable futures.
A good steward has both a scientific understanding of ecology and climate change, but they also have an emotional or ethical duty to the natural world. Earth stewardship believes humans can live in harmony with nature. It requires individuals as well as businesses and governments to respect nature in a nuanced lens. To be a good steward, one must understand the consequences and tradeoffs of their actions, both in the long term and short term.
Our social and environmental issues are caused by unequal distribution of natural resources, unequal economic and social growth, disparities in demographic variables, differing value judgments. Continuous and rapacious exploitation of natural resources, industrialization, technological growth, hyper-urbanization, and profit-oriented capitalism are causing a grave environmental crisis as well as ecological imbalance.
Instead of ignoring our environmental issues, we must acknowledge them and fix them. We have learned how our actions affect the natural world, and now we must decide how we will right our wrongs. If we choose Earth Stewardship, we can move closer to a more just system that lives in harmony with nature. Earth Stewardship can be used as a foundation for ecological citizenship in a new age of human-nature relationships.
Once we value the earth, we can move towards a model of ecological civilization. We have lost touch with nature and have forgotten our responsibility to stewardship. Stewardship expects that we take an active role in making nature better: the only way we can restore nature at this point is if we do it ourselves.